Born and Borne (unabridged)

Do you hang on to God or does God hang on to you? I ran across Isaiah 46:3-4 the other day. Even though I had marked it in my Bible, it was as though I had never seen it before. “Listen to Me, [Pres]…/ You who have been borne by Me from birth, / And have been carried from the womb; / Even to your old age, I am and shall be the same, / And even to your graying years I shall bear you! / I have done it, I have made you, and I shall carry you; / And I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you.”

That’s a pretty extensive list of personal vows.

Note that the Lord has had his hands under us from the moment we showed up in the delivery room. Even though you are reading this letter like a civilized, mature adult with all of your dignity wrapped around you, picture your face on the naked body of a newborn baby screaming about his predicament in life. Instead of the doctor’s hands catching you and your Mom’s and Dad’s arms enfolding you, imagine the hands of God supporting your head and back, wrapping you up in your first blanket, swaddling you, proud to be the One holding you.

For all the tenderness, strength, and commitment portrayed in the above paragraph, the Lord vows to be the same to you and me right through to old age. No disenchantment, bad days, mood swings, whims, or pettiness. He simply says, “I am and shall be the same.”

Just to be sure we hear Him right, He rephrases His last statement and says, “Even to your graying years I shall bear you!” The word “bear” implies that the load of us is heavy. But note that does not stop the Lord from making the vow anyway.

Here is my favorite line: “I have made you.” This isn’t a reference to forming our bodies during pregnancy. God is talking about character, person, and personality. He has overseen the process of us becoming who we are. Psalm 78:72 points out that God did this “according to the integrity of His heart” and with “skillful hands.”

As I retrace my spiritual history, I see the hand of God throughout the process, like the time I stood in a phone booth on El Camino Real in San Clemente, California and understood for the first time that it was God and God alone, not God and my parents, or God and the church. He was intent on being my God and proving Himself to me.

I heard from Him in no uncertain terms the day I cheated on my Senior Life Saving exam. Woe!

While reading The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, I experienced God as the Hound of Heaven. He pursued me in spite of all obstacles.

I could take you to a culvert running under a dirt road in northern Illinois where I sat and talked to the Lord about His will regarding my college education. I accepted His counsel and look back to see that He did indeed guide me with integrity and skill.

And on, and on I could go, recollecting how Father has made me. If you think about it, you’ll find that you have a similar history.

“I shall carry you.” This is anything but a simple vow. The word “carry” means to lift, to forgive, to look at with desire, to honor, to marry, to long for, to respect, to shield, and take as His own. Get the message?

God ends where He began and with what He reminded us of midway through the passage: “I’ll bear you,” even when you are heavy.

Run your fingers through your hair. Hold you head a little higher. Set your jaw and fix your eye. You are being borne by your Father Who made you.